Wednesday, May 23, 2012


No matter how much time I'm given to prepare for something, I always find myself wishing I had an extra day or two to spare. Packing, logistics, schedules, Arabic dialect studying, shopping for appropriate clothing, spending time with high school friends, reassuring my parents that I do indeed have a good head on my shoulders- you would think all of this could fit into three weeks, but the last 2.5 have flown by. I have two full days left to cram in my baby sister's high school graduation, last minute preparation, playlist making, mental preparation, and about 100 vital Arabic vocabulary words that I REALLY need to know (oh, and one more episode of the 2nd season of Merlin, an Arthurian BBC drama that I have become quite addicted to).

Even with all of this logistical gobbledegook, I still can't shake the overwhelming combination of giddy excitement and unbearable anxiety that comes from knowing that one of the most incredible, and probably most challenging, experiences of my life starts in exactly three days. Ever since I took Ustaaz Nasser's Arabic 101 class during my first semester of college, I have become enraptured with Arabic language, culture, history, literature, art, people...This summer will be my first time visiting the Middle East, but the warm, intricate, loving, poetic nature of the tiny glimpse of Arabic culture I've been given through my professors, their families, and my friends has compelled me to explore more. In addition to about eight weeks partnering with FDA in Jordan, I also plan to travel to Jerusalem and the surrounding Israeli and Palestinian regions. These are places that I've learned about in history classes, read about on news sites and political blogs, and even developed my own opinion about the nature of certain political situations. As someone with a passion for conflict resolution and a curiosity for how so many societal factors- religion, ethnicity, history- can effect the politics of an area, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I have this summer to get a short glimpse of life in this beautiful and deeply intricate area of the world.

But I'll stop projecting about how I envision this summer to be- I will be actually experiencing it in a few short days and hopefully will have much to report back and reflect upon. Until then.